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Banner day for BMC as Brent Bookwalter claims Tour of Utah Stage 2

SNOWBASIN — With 800 meters remaining in Tuesday’s Brigham City to Snowbasin Tour of Utah cycling race, Team Elevate’s James Piccoli launched an uphill sprint for the finish. With the peloton long having been blown up by the final Category 2 climb of the day, and only a handful of riders remaining with the lead group, BMC rider Brent Bookwalter gave chase.

Bookwalter used the surge of Holowesko Citadel rider Robin Carpenter to make up the gap and eventually pass Piccoli in the final 50 meters of Tuesday’s Stage 2 event. Bookwalter edged Rally Cycling’s Sepp Kuss, who earned the yellow jersey (overall leader) for second in the stage, while Piccoli held on for third.

“Robin Carpenter did a really big dig and I figured if I could just hold his wheel and come off it and push to the line I’d have a shot,” Bookwalter said. “I’ve been a close second in a lot of races in the last 12-24 months, so I really wanted it.”

While Bookwalter got the stage win, it was his BMC racing team that did a lot of work on Tuesday’s stage. BMC’s Joey Rosskopf got into the break about an hour into Tuesday’s race and stayed out front until the final 10 miles. Bookwalter called Rosskopf an animal during Tuesday’s press conference and said having teammates around him all day helped his confidence.

“The final climb my teammates were putting pressure on me and I was feeling pretty good,” Bookwalter said. “I looked around and had several guys with me so I got more confident from that. At the end it was about picking the right moment.”

Trailing Bookwalter to the line was the 22-year-old Kuss, who took the overall race lead after a good stint of training heading into this year's tour.

“I didn’t exactly imagine it, it’s always a hope, but I trained super hard for this race,” Kuss said. “When you prepare for a race, you kind of envision it, but I didn’t expect to be in this position today. It’s a bit of a surprise.”

Kuss’ teammate, Adam de Vos, attacked initially up the final climb with just over four miles remaining. While a splintered chase pack eventually tracked de Vos down, Kuss and Rally Cycling had plenty of firepower up front with Canadian Rob Britton also in the mix on the final climb.

“Today is a punchier finish, so we had it in plan and of course Rob isn’t going to lose time on a stage like this,” Kuss said “We have a really good one-two dynamic, and tomorrow’s time trial should be a good one for Rob.”

For Piccoli, who was just called up to the Elevate team, the third-place finish and aggressive riding has him looking forward to the rest of the tour.

“Tomorrow’s time trial will be an all-out effort, no hiding, whoever has the legs is going to win,” Piccoli said.

It’s been a tough year for the Axeon Hagens Berman team. On Monday, the team rode in memory of teammate Chad Young, who died after a crash in New Mexico. Tuesday was a day to remember Axeon Hagens Berman press officer Sean Weide, who died this year at the age of 49.

On Tuesday, as riders checked in prior to the Brigham City-to-Snowbasin stage, Weide’s five daughters, who traveled from Omaha, Nebraska, were honored by the team and by the Tour of Utah. Tour of Utah officials were wearing black YD shirts to remember Weide, who always told people if they couldn’t pronounce his name to just say YD.

Axeon got a tremendous ride Tuesday from Neilson Powless, who vaulted into the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey.

“I was just trying to find my legs and see where I'm at,” he said. “I think I’ve got a good idea, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week, although it will be pretty tough to rip that yellow jersey from Sepp.”

Stage 3

After a six-year absence, the Tour of Utah added an individual time trial (race against the clock) to the rotation. Wednesday’s Stage 3 time trial starts at 7,300 feet near the Donut Falls Trailhead Parking at Reynolds Gulch to Brighton Ski Resort. The course is only 5.6 miles long but features a steady dose of climbing with an average gradient of 5.5 percent.

Tuesday's Stage 2 results:

1 11 BOOKWALTER Brent BMC RACING TEAM 3:38:12. 3:38:12

2 145 KUSS Sepp RALLY CYCLING 3:38:12. s.t.

3 111 PICCOLI James ELEVATE-KHS PRO CYCLING 3:38:12. s.t.

4 123 MANCEBO PEREZ Francisco HANGAR 15 BICYCLES 3:38:14. 2

5 103 MURPHY Kyle CYLANCE CYCLING 3:38:15. s.t.

Overall leaders:

1. Sepp Kuss 8:35.01

2. Brent Bookwalter — same time

3. James Piccoli — same time

4. Robin Carpenter 8:35.03

5. Silvan Dillier — same time